On a whitewashed island in Greece, where the brass church bells chime out into the sea
every evening, there is a slender old woman in a red head scarf who yells out, “Soup! A scoop of
soup!” while banging her tin drum with a ladle and wandering the cobblestoned alleyways. The
elderly of the town (much of the town by now) appear with their clay bowls on their worn stoops,
waiting. At each new home, she swirls the soup ceremoniously and scoops the spinning broth into
the bowls with concentration. She repeats the ritual until she has gotten to the main square by the
small fishing port and the soup has disappeared. Many old men, the grizzled farmhand; the
mustachioed pharmacist; dead-eyed fisherman, slam their doors in hungered disappointment.
Soon, as the moon rises, the old woman walks down to the refracted moonlight of the sea,
along the rocks and leans over to ladle the salty blue water into her tin drum again. Little do the old
men know that this is what is nourishing them. Nourishing their quiet, stagnant, old age. This is
where she is taking just a bit off the top of the eternal fountain and doling it out to the dying.
Keeping them just old enough to live, forever, wanting her.
AUSTIN SANCHEZ-MORAN is a teacher and writer who received his MFA in Poetry from George Mason University. His poems and short fiction have been published in RHINO Poetry, Denver Quarterly, and Salamander Magazine, among many others. He also has had poems and short fiction chosen for the anthologies Best New Poets of the Midwest (2017) and Best Microfiction 2020, respectively. His first poetry collection, Suburban Sutras (Finishing Line Press), is out now. “Fountain of the Dying” was a finalist in MAYDAY’s 2022 March Madness Flash Fiction competition, and a personal favorite of the fiction team.